Tuesday, September 6, 2016

2016 Reading Challenges

I thought I should update my 2016 Reading Challenges List and information, since I haven't posted about them since early this year. I've made some progress on a few of them, and others have lagged quite a bit. More detailed information below. (Here is the link for my earlier post on the challenges). And I'd love to hear how you all are doing on your own challenges this year!

Foodies Read 2016
The purpose of this challenge is to read books with a focus on food. They can be fiction or non-fiction, novels or cookbooks, et cetera, as long as food plays a significant role in the book. My plan was to achieve the Pastry Chef Level of 4-8 books, but I haven't read any that qualify yet this year! There's still time, but I kind of doubt I'll reach this goal.

(picture taken from imdb.com)

Shakespeare 400: The 2016 Bardathon Challenge
My challenge for Shakespeare 400 was the Mix-and-match Shakespearean Level, 5 books and/or adaptations. So far, I've only finished two movie adaptations. Granted, there is still plenty of time to accomplish this goal, and the adaptations that I watched are probably two of my new favorites.

(picture taken from imdb.com)

6th Annual Deal Me In Short Story Challenge
Deal Me In is a short story challenge where each participant makes a list of 52 short stories, one for each week of the year, and assigns each one to a card in a deck of playing cards. I've been reading quite a few short stories, but not as many as I should have by now, and not all the ones I had planned. Moving put a big monkey wrench in my card selection process, as well as limiting my choices of books to keep on hand at a time. I may not stay true to my original list of stories to read, but there's a chance I can still catch up on this one if I read a couple of books of short stories before the end of the year.

2016 Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge
For this challenge, I try to fill a list of the alphabet with titles that I read as the year goes on. I'm mostly finished with this challenge, and it's actually been pretty easy for me to just fill in the books I happen to be reading. There are a few letters (such as X and Z) that I'm having some trouble with, but hopefully it will all work out.

(picture taken from hogwartsrunningclub.org)

Charity Reading Challenge
The idea behind this challenge is to motivate people to give back in little ways connected to our reading habits. So far, I gave away a few boxes of books when I moved and bought some recently at a local nonprofit sale. I've featured one book-themed charity on this blog and have a few more lined up to write about. I also still plan to count the number of books I read this year in any format and donate $1 per book read to a charity in January of next year. So far, I'm at 45 books, which is great for me!

(picture taken from nolastorycon.com)

NoLA StoryCon
I'll be attending NoLA StoryCon at the end of September in New Orleans, Louisiana. I can't believe it's almost time to go! Speaking of which, if any of you have suggestions of bookstores/restaurants/anything to visit, see, or try while I'm there, please let me know! This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me! I challenged myself to read more books by some of the authors who will be in attendance and to read books about New Orleans or related to the city through the setting or the author. I've done fairly well with this challenge so far--better than I expected, anyway--so I'll post a list soon of what I've read for this!

I hope you all enjoyed hearing where I am with my challenges right now! Keep an eye out for more specific posts about each one soon!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Literary Palate: Pensione Emerson Cookies

And now, for the post to kickstart a new beginning! I know how much you guys loved the Thornton Cupcakes, and these cookies are something I made a little while back and loved how they turned out! So, I made some more tonight and decided to share them with you!

Our Inspiration

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
(picture taken from Goodreads)

I read this book two years ago and loved it! Here's a link to the review I posted about it.

Our Creation

Pensione Emerson Cookies

I know this is not the name of the pension in A Room with a View, but I wanted to name these cookies after my favorite characters, the Emersons, while also giving the name a relevant Italian touch. They are blood orange olive oil cookies, sprinkled with a little extra dried orange peel on top. They are delicious and buttery-tasting with (I like to think) a touch of sophistication and passionate love!

The Recipe

2 cups granulated cane sugar
1 cup blood orange olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons finely grated dried orange peel
3 cups unbleached organic flour

Stir sugar, olive oil, orange juice, and eggs together until well-mixed. Mix in salt, baking powder, and orange peel. Add one cup of flour at a time until well-mixed, no dry ingredients still showing. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and drop about a spoonful of cookie dough for each cookie. Bake for 10 minutes. Change temperature to 425 F and bake for two more minutes for browning. Pull out of oven, let cool, garnish with a little extra orange peel or a dash of powdered sugar if desired, and enjoy!

You can easily use unflavored olive oil and still get a delicious taste. I've also substituted other citrus juices and had a good result. I have included the type of ingredients that I usually use, but you are welcome to substitute with what you can or prefer to eat. I almost always tweak recipes that I use anyway. Just make sure you're aware that altered fat content/dry-wet ingredient ratio/etc. will alter the consistency of the cookies; adjust other ingredients accordingly. If you want, the dough is pliable enough to pipe into pretty shapes. And if you make bigger cookies, bake them a bit longer. These are pretty forgiving.

For Your Comparison
Helena Bonham Carter as Lucy Honeychurch and Julian Sands as George Emerson

view from the Pensione Bertolini in the 1985 movie production

I know I promised you all more of these Literary Palate posts, and MaryAnn and I have come up with several flavors since the Thornton cupcakes, so hopefully it won't be long! If there's anything you'd like to know about our processes or inspirations, please comment and I'll do my best to answer. Also, if you have any suggestions for book or fandom inspirations, recipes to try, tweaks to recipes, throw them my way! And I'd love to hear how yours turn out if you make some!


I'm alive! Okay, you probably assumed that (especially since I've been sneakily updating a couple of my reading challenges, and it would be really weird if someone else were doing it), but I'm back! I don't know if I'll be posting immediately as frequently as I did before my break, but I'll get there. Here's a quick update on how I'm doing physically and what's going on in my life: My kidneys are recovering very well, and I have an appointment with my nephrologist this month to see some hopefully clean labs and continue to lower my medication. I no longer have an appendix, but who needs that, anyway? After a car crash that totaled my car (this happened shortly after I stopped posting on here), I got a soccer mom minivan, which is mostly functional and will be improved soon. We moved to a new town last month, still in Missouri (and so far, I've located two libraries within a 10-min. drive, which is what's important). I've decided to take a break from working for a year (or at least some months) to get myself sorted out and figure out what I want to do next. I dyed my hair blue! It's funky, and I love it. I figured if I'm taking some time off from working anyway, might as well do something a bit wild. It was a lot brighter and darker when I first did it, but I'll add a picture below. Oh, and I'm currently doing my son's preschool from home, getting him ready for Kindergarten next year! Where has the time gone? We're enjoying lots of trips exploring our new surroundings, checking out fun parks, and going to the zoo. I have only unpacked about a quarter of my stuff; it's exhausting. I think that's about it! I'd love to hear what's going on with all of you and will hopefully have time to catch up on a few of your blogs.